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Trent's Last Case (Phillip Trent #1)

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,381 ratings  ·  95 reviews
"One of the few genuine classics of detective fiction." — The New York Times. Written in reaction to what Bentley perceived as the sterility and artificiality of the detective fiction of his day — particularly stories that featured infallible detectives of the Holmesian stripe — Trent's Last Case (1913) features Philip Trent, an all-too-human detective who not only falls i ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published July 11th 1997 by Dover Publications (first published 1913)
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Tim
Perhaps the first "cosy" detective story. Has the distinction of being lauded by Dorothy Sayers and derided by Raymond Chandler.

The plot is clever, and still works today, even if the setting seems alien to the modern reader.

Extra points from me because E.C. Bentley was my great grandfather.
Derek Davis
Odd to give 5 stars to a mystery whose first half seemed stilted and somewhat formulaic. Yet if it seems formulaic, in part it's because, having been written in 1913, it invents part of the formula.

But then comes the second half. Unfolding one of the most complicated plots ever put down in writing, it ends with a triple switch that, at the same time, takes you full circle back to a suggestion of motive at the first meeting of Trent and another major character.

But what makes it truly sterling is
...more
Tony
Bentley, E. C. (Edmund Clerihew). (1913). ****.
I remember trying to read this widely praised detective novel about forty years ago, but wa put off by the style of writing used by the author. Forty years later, I’m better able to recognize temporal differences and preferences in style and successfully finished the novel. Bentley wrote the book as a reaction to the types of detective novels of the time, where the protagonist was not fully developed, but was recognized by some of his more personal
...more
Jill Hutchinson
This book consistently shows up on "greatest mysteries" lists and with good reason. Written in 1913, it is considered the first of the "golden age" mysteries but does not have your typical infallible Holmesian-style detective.

Phillip Trent, an artist, journalist and amateur detective is on the case of a murdered millionaire and he starts out with a bang. All his deductions make perfect sense based on the clues but instead, they are all wrong. The story has more turns than an alpine highway and a
...more
Kim

This book, which was published in 1913, gets three stars for the mystery (and one of those is for the satisfying final twist). It gets 1/2 star for reputedly being the first "golden age" British mystery. It gets another 1/2 star because the great Dorothy L Sayers was a friend (and fan) of the author. All of these factors combined to make me like it a lot.

I had never heard of Bentley or of his detective Phillip Trent until I recently read The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1899-1936: The Making o
...more
Ann
This worked really well as an audiobook. I found the first part a bit slow but about halfway through the book it really took off with lots of twists and turns which certainly kept me guessing. Interesting characters, great plotline and even some love interest for Trent thrown in. I really enjoyed it.
Ann
This book was later published as Trent's Last Case.
Ed
#1 in the Philip Trent series. Listed in Ninety Classics of Crime Fiction 1900-1975 ed. Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor.
Despite the title, this was not Trent's last case - the 1913 novel was followed by Trent's Own Case (1936), written with H. Warner Allen, and finally by Trent Intervenes (1938, a collection of short stories. Dedicated to G.K. Chesterton in return for that author's The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), this novel was meant to be a humorous response to the deadly serious Sher
...more
Graham Powell
This classic case of detection from 1913 has a well-known twist (which I will not spoil for you), but knowing it does not reduce the enjoyment of reading very much. After a very slow, but mercifully short, first chapter, the book picks up quite for a while - though it later slows to lots and lots of expostulation.

Philip Trent, artist, amateur detective, and sometimes newspaper correspondent, is hired to investigate the murder of wealthy American magnate Sigbee Manderson at his seaside home in En
...more
Steve
Although called "Trent's Last Case" (published 1912), here E.C. Bentley introduces the British jounalist/artist/detective, in what was the first of several featuring the author's not always subtle spoof of British detective thrillers. It was later adapted several times for film,including the 1952 production with Orson Welles, Margaret Lockwood & Michael Wilding (as Trent). This later film made some changes in the plot, under the direction of Herbert Wilcox.

In Bentley's novel, Trent is hired
...more
Sorcha
Carl Schwartz burst into the living room of the Moon Valley Ranch house with fire in his eye and pathos in his voice: "As sheur as I standing here am, dot schwein I'm going to kill "' "I'll jest bet yer a million dollars ter a piece o' custard pie yer don't," said Bud Morgan, rising from the lounge where he had been resting after a strenuous day in the big pasture. "I'll pet you," shouted Carl. "Der pig pelongs mit me der same as you." "Go ahead, then," said Bud, lying down again. "But I want te ...more
Shireen
I think it was an Amazon Kindle group thread on good public domain books to read that I heard of this one. I downloaded it to my iPod Touch and read it using the Stanza app.

Apparently Bentley was a newspaperman, who wrote Trent's Last Case in 1913. There's no doubt writers wrote differently back then, and I found the story-telling method of that era a bit slow at first, and it was many weeks before I picked it up again. I'm glad I did. After the intro, this book is a deceptively mild meandering
...more
Dianne Owens
I haven't read a lot of mystery books in my life. Seeing a reading available via librivox, I decided to listen to the stream for a bit. Satisfied with a few minutes of Kirsten Wever narration of the prologue, I decided to download and listen to the book in its entirety. The book straddles the line between murder mystery and PG romance quite well, making it a rather pleasant change from what I typically read.

GIST
When powerful businessman Sigsbee Manderson is found murdered, newspaper reporter Phi
...more
Joe
The First Modern Detective Story.

Edmund Clerihew Bentley( yes, he invented the Clerihew), wrote this book as a gift for G.K. Chesterton, who had written HIS masterpiece, The Man Who Was Thursday for Bentley. It was intended to blow up the myth of the "infallible" detective. Anyone who loves the whole late Edwardian, Upstairs Downstairs/ Downton Abbey world will delight in this book. Phillip Trent, an highly imaginative Artst Detective, tries to solve the puzzling murder of Sigbee Manderson, ha
...more
Eustacia Tan
Ok, I admit it, I didn't know what to read. It seems like for the last few books, I've been reading nothing but cozies (sorry, it's my favourite subgenre!). So, after searching the Internet, I found a parody of the Mystery genre - Trent's Last Case by E.C. Bentley.

Trent's Last Case follows the titular character, who amusingly, doesn't solve the case at the end (in his deduction, he was tricked by the murderer). It's really amusing, and doesn't have much (if any) of a serious tone.

Trent, the her
...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in May 2000.

Despite the title, Trent's Last Case was the first of Bentley's novels featuring Philip Trent, a detective conceived as a deliberate contrast to Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes is a collection of eccentricities, part of a line of fictional detectives whose mannerisms are more important than their characters; Hercule Poirot is another example. Trent was intended to be more realistic; a man with more or less normal tastes, who was even allowed to b
...more
Brynna
I think this probably deserves a higher rating, but my expectations were so high that it was all too easy to be disappointed. The edition of this book that I read (not necessarily the edition shown, since I don't know what the cover of the edition I checked out looks like) had all kinds of footnotes, citing Trent's quotations and pointing out some (though, in my opinion, not all) that had not been traced to their source, making comments about Raymond Chandler's reviews, pointing out differences ...more
rabbitprincess
Jun 05, 2010 rabbitprincess rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with the time and patience to appreciate "older" writing style
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Top 100 list
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Imsathya
This was another highly recommended book from one of the Who-dun-it discussion forums I participate in.The book has a lot going for it- a suave "detective", a sweet little romance running in parallel and an apparently intricate plot. Despite all this however, when I ended the book. it was not with a feeling of having read a great book. I was in fact relieved to end it.

I think my major problem was with the structure of the story telling. Mr Bentley appears to be jumping all over the place and app
...more
Durdles
Apparently the first of the "Golden Age" detective stories first published in 1912. Humourous, light-hearted and a nice contrast to the Sherlock Holmes melodramas that preceded it. Trent emerges as witty, intelligent, likeable and seemingly infallible amateur detective. The style has a very modern feel to it (electric lights and cars!), I had to keep checking the date of publication; the setting and tone could have been from a 1960s Agatha Christie novel and the plot, involving pathological jeal ...more
Dfordoom
Published in 1936. The detective hero of the novel, Philip Trent, is an artist who works part-time as a journalist on spectacular crime stories. It’s one of those crime novels that doesn’t show the police as blundering fools – he gets on well with the detective-inspector assigned to the case an has great respect for him. The case involves the murder of a billionaire American industrialist in England. What make this book unusual is that the love story that is tied up with the murder story is give ...more
Jeff Miller
This novel is one of those free gems you find on Project Gutenberg/Librivox.

The novel was actually written as a challenge by G.K. Chesterton to the author concerning creating a detective that was kind of an anti-Sherlock Holmes.

Trent is a successful painter who became interested in solving mysteries after reading newspaper accounts of crimes. In the past he was very successful concerning the cases he came in contact with. Though he is also fallible, but not a bumbler and his instincts are partl
...more
Scilla
Artist Trent was called in by Sir James of the Sun to investigate the death of Sigsbee Manderson, famous American financier. He talks with his friend Mr. Cupples, who is the uncle of Manderson's wife. Manderson had been found shot through his eye by a shed dressed, but not well, and without his false teeth. Marlowe, one of his secretaries had gone for the night on an errand. It appeared that Manderson had gone part way with Marlowe and then walked home and gone to bed. Trent manages to get some ...more
Heather
This is not the ghost story "The Woman in Black", it is a detective type story.

I was expecting to read the ghost story, so I was disappointed to find I was reading a detective story. That being said, it was an ok read...not my type of story, but I finished it. I'm sure at the time it was written it was quite an exciting read.
Nikki
Considered a bit of a breakthrough in the detective story because the sleuth is a bit of a bumbler, not the omniscient genius in the Sherlock Holmes mode. The classical education of the early twentieth-century British writer shows in the lengthy, but well-punctuated and readable, sentences. Although the somewhat florid writing would not pass muster with today's editors, it does not detract overmuch from the story. Trent, the detective, may have influenced Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey as he has the ...more
Verity W
I enjoyed this - although I found the writing a little hard going in places compared to what I'm used to from the Golden Age (I know this pre-dates that). It's a really good plot, lots of twists and turns and unexpected developments and I can see why it was so influential and why it has the reputation that it does. Glad I read it.
M
The twist at the end is worth all the time it takes to get there. Trent is a great character and his journey to the truth is a lot of fun. I've never read any of Bentley's stories, but I just might search out some of his other Trent stories just to spend more time with this enjoyable detective.
Sandie
I really liked this one, an unusual mystery in which the detective falls in love with the prime suspect and solves the mystery with a brilliant but wrong conclusion. The prose is sometimes old fashioned, but the story was enjoyable.

E.C. Bentley was a good friend of G.K. Chesterton.
Richard Ward
Fun, quick and easy to read murder mystery from early in the golden age of British detective fiction. A little different, the detective doesn't quite solve the case and the reader probably won't either. Hugely influential within its genre.
Janice
That was a jolly good mystery with twists and turns. Philip Trent had solved the crime, but it was half way into the book. That was a sure sign that things were not as they seemed.

One of the things I like about reading older mysteries is that the solutions are not reliant on modern day forensic science which takes all the fun out of it. Sherlock Holmes, Philip Trent and others of their ilk solved crimes by the power of keen observation and astute deduction.

(view spoiler)
...more
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Edmund Clerihew Bentley was a popular English novelist.
More about E.C. Bentley...

Other Books in the Series

Phillip Trent (3 books)
  • Trent's Own Case
  • Trent Intervenes
Trent's Own Case Trent Intervenes Elephant's Work First Clerihews The Boys' Second Book of Great Detective Stories

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